For some Christians – including me – unhappiness is seen as “morally wrong,” and joy (satisfaction in God regardless of circumstances) is seen as the solution.
It’s easy to view joy as primarily an antidote to unhappiness, but instead, I think joy may actually be something we can experience in the midst of unhappiness – while still feeling unhappy!
Unhappiness is a normal response to so many of life’s sorrows – death, divorce, violence, etc. Do you think Jesus was happy when he was about to be crucified? I think he was rather unhappy. That’s not to say he couldn’t experience joy concurrently – joy in the fact that he was obeying God and joy in the fact that he was saving the world. Jesus was also unhappy when his friend, Lazarus, died. “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)
Are you unhappy about something you don’t think you should be unhappy about? Are you unhappy for an unidentifiable reason? Totally ok! You have no reason to feel guilty about unhappiness – we don’t live in a perfect world with perfect circumstances, and our brains are not always perfectly balanced with the right chemicals.
Seeking joy is good, but not in response to feeling guilty about unhappiness. We shouldn’t bury unhappiness, and we shouldn’t use joy as another form of escapism – that’s not what it was meant for.
“. . . a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
Have a faith (or “un-faith”) story? Submit a guest blog!